May 6, 2010

Ferro on the future of KCRW

Newly anointed KCRW General Manager Jennifer Ferro talks about her vision for the public radio station:
... one of the challenges that all radio faces is this idea of relevance. There are so many other ways that people get information. And there are a lot of people (especially young people) that don’t really listen to the radio anymore. They listen to other devices. So one of our goals is just trying to get our programming where people are – mobile interests, being online, on social media. But the other thing is that – if you want to stay relevant, you just have to keep delivering great programming, whether that’s on the air, online, in-person, or through these really great events that we do.

We have this idea of this “independent producer lab.” In public radio, there are people who put together these amazing pieces. They’re like journalists, who are telling amazing stories &…they’re struggling to make a living. Like this one guy Joe Richman (who I love), did this thing called “Prison Diaries,” where he got prisoners to carry around these tape recorders. And everyday, they’d just talk into them, tell these stories and talk about their lives. And he edited them together and made these really powerful vignettes of people incarcerated that you’d never hear otherwise. He spends a lot of his time trying to raise the money to be able to do that. And I think that’s just a shame. We should be doing that. So that’s what we want to do at KCRW – be the distribution partner, go out and raise the money, support these people and commission them to go do stories about Los Angeles.

I just want us to continue to act as a sort of community center. I really love this idea of membership. We have members who contribute anywhere from $5 a month or $5000 a year. But it’s sort of this pledge that says “I’m down with what you guys do.” And we have 52,000 people who do that. I want it to be like 100,000 people. That’s my big goal. It’s a huge goal but were working on reducing all the barriers to being a member – whatever donation you can give…makes you a member. Just being able to say that there are 100,000 people, who want to be a part of it…would be really amazing.

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